May 252009

Thanks to my friend Vicki Cook, I’ve discovered fold forming…taking a sheet of metal and making lovely designs by annealing, folding, unfolding, tapping a bit with the hammer…and then starting all over again in another spot.

The results are really cool.  Of course, every piece is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.  So far, I’ve made a couple of pendants, a pin, and two pairs of earrings.

If you are comfortable with a torch, it’s easy to get started.  Basic instructions are:

  1. Cut a small piece of 30g copper sheet.  About 1 1/2 to 2″ square is a good starting point.
  2. Anneal the copper sheet using a torch.  Wave the hottest part of the flame over the sheet slowly and evenly, watching for the color to change.  I anneal for about 30 seconds.
  3. Let the sheet cool slightly, then pick up with a pliers and quench in cool water.
  4. Here’s where the folding comes in…I use a small vise, placing the sheet in the jaws of the vise and folding to a 90° angle.  Remove the sheet from the vise, and continue to fold it over until both sides are folded against each other.
  5. Using a rawhide or rubber mallet, gently tap the crease until it is tight. (Think about when you crease paper with a fingernail so that you can tear it straight…same concept!)
  6. Open the fold from the back.  You may find it easier to use a thin piece of metal (Vicki suggests using an oyster knife, which I think is brilliant!) to unfold the piece.  I also use a pair of flat nosed nylon jaw pliers to pull the fold apart.
  7. Gently tap the crease and unfolded sheet on either side of the sheet.  You’ll want the fold to continue to be a bit convex, but the sides should flatten out.
  8. Repeat from Step 2, creating a fold in another spot.  Experiment with crossing the folds over each other – you’ll be amazed at the results!

Fold forming is a lot of fun, and after you’ve created a sheet, the possibilities are endless.  Sheets can be punched out with a disc to make circles, cut with a saw, or just drilled and hung from ear wires!

Jan 292009

Guess what?! It’s Ornament Thursday time again! This year’s Ornament Thursday team has decided to base themes on colors…and what a wide variety of colors we have in store for you!

One great addition for this year’s events – YOU are invited to join us! If you’d like to get in on the Ornament Thursday projects, contact any of the OT team and let us know you’d like to join. Blog entries are due on the last Thursday of the month, and we’d love to see what you can do!!!

Up first: Celeste – ice blue for January’s winter chill. My contribution dresses up a plain toggle clasp using gorgeous ice blue topaz from The Earth Bazaar, as well as tiny sterling silver round beads, miniscule freshwater pearls, and a few moonstone cubes tossed in for good measure. The clasp is then used as the focal for a simple sterling silver chain…and I think it’s the perfect neck “ornament” for an Ice Princess!

Celeste Wrapped Toggle Necklace

16mm plain sterling silver toggle clasp
30g sterling silver wire (about 40″)
Assorted beads 3mm – 4mm (I used round blue topaz and sterling silver, rice freshwater pearls and moonstone cubes)
Bulk chain (however long you would like your necklace to be!)
4mm sterling silver jump rings

My toggle ring was rounded, and wrapping is much easier on a flat surface, so I carefully hammered the larger ring until it was flat.

Next, I secured the 30g wire around the ring, about 4 wraps, leaving a good length of extra wire at the end for a tail.

After securing the wire, I began randomly adding beads, making sure to wrap both around the toggle and between previous beads to keep them secure. The wrapping wire is pretty well hidden by the beads, so don’t worry if it’s a little messy…the trick is to be sure it’s tight and holds your beads in place. Before adding the next bead, I wrap at least twice.

You can see here how I began loading up the toggle with beads and filling the gaps between beads.

To finish the toggle, I secured the wire around several beads and clipped it close to the toggle.

Next, I attached a fairly hefty chain to both the ring and the bar. The toggle can be worn at the front of the chain like a pendant, and the size of the necklace could be adjusted by winding the chain once around the ring and re-inserting the bar through the ring.


Jan 242009

Busy week…I accomplished a LOT!

First up, earrings to accompany already created necklaces.

Citrine and Sterling


“Ruby Jade” Hearts

Labradorite and Sterling complements my Lab Works necklace.

Copper Swirls.

And finally, a chunk of amethyst crystals that just begged to be wrapped. Believe it or not, this is so snug, the stone is not going anywhere despite the open appearance. I really think it showcases the crystals nicely.

All of these pieces are being created for the Art & Soup show next month…I’m very excited about this show and hope it is successful!

Jan 112009

Week 2 was busy! I worked on a special commission of pendants and earrings, and was pleased with how they turned out.

Next up, I made 5 pairs of little earrings. Instructions will be posted on the blog in the next day or so. These are cute and feminine…dainty!

Finally, I made up a pair of earrings to match last week’s Iolite and Pearl pendant. Very simple.

Jan 042009

One of my goals for 2009 (oops…I need to post those, don’t I?!) is to be more consistent in taking photos of my work and posting it on my Etsy site. On one of the jewelry message boards I frequent, there is a member who posted “Everything from Week ##” throughout 2008, and I thought it was a great way to journal a year’s worth of work.

So look for “Everything from Week ##” from me, beginning this week.

Up first is a wire woven pendant using some yummy iolite stones (tiny, tiny things…I fell in love with them when I saw them!) and freshwater pearls. The style is taken from an Eni Oken tutorial that I picked up a couple of years ago. I tend to stress about what to do with pendants…I’m not fond of most 100% beaded necklaces with a pendant – I think they take away from the focal – but sometimes I really like to have something that’s finished, not just a pendant for someone to hang on a chain.

I like the way this finished up, with the addition of some iolite and pearl eyepins to a light chain I purchased in bulk from Fire Mountain Gems.

A work-in-progress this week is the chain for a copper pendant that I also made this week. The pendant was created from 14g, 16g, and 26g copper wire – I call it “A Song in My Heart”. I was inspired by Eni’s Jewelry Lessons site challenge for Valentine’s Day…still going to work on the design a bit before submitting.

The chain is a tiny, tiny version of the Jens Pind Linkage weave. I had a hard time getting this weave down, and when I finally did, it was one of those epiphany moments of “Cheese and crackers…what did I think was so darn hard about THAT?!” It’s classified as micro-maille (3/32″ 20g rings), and I can only do a couple of inches at a time before my eyes start to cross.

So, at the end of the first week of 2009, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Join me in the challenge of posting your weekly jewelry making!!

Nov 072008

Early holiday gift to myself is more time…for the last several years, I’ve managed to save enough vacation time from my day job to take off one day a week during December. This year, I somehow finagled it so I began working 4-day weeks in November!

Of course, jewelry making is at the top of my list – two more shows to go this year (one tomorrow, one in two weeks), some commissioned pieces that have been ordered, and a to-do list that seems to grow over night.

Today I’m taking out my little torch. Have some fusing and soldering projects that I’ll work on. This week I’ve been building inventory for the shows – earrings and rings that are priced less than $20…great stocking stuffers and impulse items.

Happy Friday…off to fire up that torch!

Sep 162008

I’ve had a few folks dropping a line with concern that I haven’t blogged in some time, and “are you alright?”

Thanks for the concern. 🙂

Sparkling Pumpkin Pendant

Sparkling Pumpkin Pendant

Yes, I’m alright. Fine and dandy, in fact. Just been a little pre-occupied with school starting up for the youngest, wedding plans for the oldest, and starting prep for shows that seem to be non-stop until Thanksgiving. Plus the myriad of other “stuff” that seems to just pile up on top of everything else.

Until I get back in the swing of things (which will hopefully happen soon!), take a gander at a few “older” articles and projects that are perfect for fall and this time of year!

Sparkling Pumpkin Pendant is perfect for fall or Halloween – easy to make and a great little gift. And what youngster wouldn’t love a BOO bracelet for the month of October?!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it’s right around the corner. Why not order the supplies you need to make our fancy Think Pink BCA charm or a classic BCA Stretch Bracelet?

Attending some craft fairs this fall? Be sure you print out a copy of Beading Help Web’s popular Craft Show Checklist before you pack up! I’ve been showing for 8 years and still use it!

Happy fall!!!

Aug 252008

The gang that hangs out at the Michael’s message boards holds monthly challenges, and the challenge this month was to make something primarily of metal.

Well, I love metal…so I couldn’t resist! I actually made two pieces using the same wire wrapping technique.

Challenge rules include that your piece must be made of at least 75% materials available from a Michael’s store…for these projects, I used 26g Wild Wire in fuchsia and teal, as well as 18g silver wire for the frame.

I’ve made two pendants for the August Michaels Challenge. The first is a version of my Fairy Ladder pendant, using the team Wild Wire. For this piece, I also used 18g Wild Wire in silver color for my frame, but I was not happy with the way the frame flopped around when I wrapped it. Michaels, please carry heavier gauges of wire for folks who don’t want to use sterling silver!!! Size on this little pendant is about 1″ long, about 1/4″ across.

Next up, I decided to use some (shhhh) sterling silver wire for the frame, again in 18g. Shape held up much better with this one. Teal and fuchsia wire are used to wrap…I can see a couple of small errors, but overall, I’m really pleased with the way this turned out!! Size on this one is also about 1″ long, 3/8″ across the widest point. Lots of wrapping in that tiny space!

These may end up being gifts for a couple of special little girls I know…not sure yet. I think they would like them, however. 🙂

Thanks for peeking…if you’d like to join in the fun on the Michaels board, please join us!!!

Jul 302008

One of the fun things about making jewelry in the 21st century is belonging to online groups who share interests, knowledge and sometimes challenge other members!

In addition to several other online jewelry message boards, social networks, and groups, I am active on the Michaels message board. I’ve gotten to know a terrific group of beaders there, and we hold a monthly challenge, which anyone is welcome to enter!

July’s challenge was especially fun. Each member assigned a three-color combination to another member, and the challenge was to make a piece of jewelry using those colors.

My challenge came from CrazyKat, an energetic and fun beader who asked me to make something using pink, purple and blue. Not my usual color combinations, but I was up to it!

I decided to use Swarovski crystals in the three colors, and keep the overall design very simple. Fine silver headpins, and a fine silver link that was fused and hammered. The overall design was organic with some bling, and I was pleased with the end result.
If you’d like to join the Michaels message board and one of the challenges, go to the Michaels website and click on the Beads tab, and then on the message board link (bottom of the page). You’ll need to sign up (free) to post comments.
Jul 282008

So if you’ve been keeping up with my Westfair stories (what do you mean you have your own life and don’t spend hours following mine?) you know I had an unusual request from a couple of the entertainers.

Michelle and Alissa are lumberjacks. Lumber JILLS actually. Chicks with Axes. I watched them working with chainsaws and axes and was absolutely amazed at their talent, power, and ability to not cut off body parts. In addition to their talent with those blades, they are just nice people. If you ever get a chance to check out Timber Tina’s Lumberjills, please do!

On Thursday, they spotted my copper and sterling “scrap” pendants and asked if I could make something with an axe on it. Why not, I thought…I’m up to a challenge!

I worked on a couple of prototypes and didn’t really get what I wanted, so I changed my approach and started hammering 14g wire into “blades” to wrap around a “handle” (also in 14g).

Next up, I roughed up some copper plates to solder the axes to. In the meantime, I started looking at the blades on those axes and thinking about soldering them, and getting a little nervous. Better have an extra on hand, just in case I turned it into a blob of melted silver, eh? Plus, I have to admit, I had a lot of fun making those little axes.

So I created a little double bladed “executioner” style axe. Again, just 14g wire, hammered then filed. I used some 26g wire to attach the blade to the handle.

I took them home that night, said a little prayer to the Gods of Metal, and just touched the torch to them. Miracle of all miracles, no melting…not a single one. All three attached to their respective pendants with nary a speck of stray solder, even. Tossed them in the tumbler, and took them out in the morning. Dan examined them and was amazed “Those aren’t going anywhere, are they!?”

I took the pendants to the fair, and the girls LOVED them. They ended up picking out the two that look alike, so I have an extra double bladed axe, but I don’t care. I had so much fun making these, I just giggled to think about them!!

All I can say is “thank God they didn’t want me to make chainsaws….”

LOL, thanks for reading my little story…it was definitely the highlight of my fair week!!!!!